In some cases of gastroparesis, oral maintenance of nutrition is not possible. Due to the extreme nausea, vomiting, and pain, patients often experience severe malnutrition, weight loss, and dehydration. Potassium tends to drop quickly which can lead to serious complications including sudden cardiac death. Other common nutrients easily affected are calcium, iron, magnesium, and phosphorous. Typically, vitamins and minerals are not well tolerated orally so supplementation is often difficult.
If following the recommended diets don’t work, and the patient suffers from chronic malnutrition, feedings through an IV line or G/J-tube may be the only option for maintenance of nutrition.
Although tube feedings are safer than IV Nutrition (TPN), they are usually not effective in people who suffer from problems of the lower GI tract. They are most commonly used in cases of Gastroparesis, although they can also be used to help the stomach and/or small bowel decompress and prevent vomiting.
There are two types of feeding:
1. Parenteral nutrition is nutrition fed through the vein, commonly referred to as TPN (Total Parenteral Nutrition)..
2. Enteral nutrition is nutrition fed through a feeding tube which has been implanted into the stomach and/or small bowel.